How do you say "or" in Japanese?

I read somewhere that it was “や”, like "野菜や果物を食べますか。"
I read somewhere else that the particle “や” means that you’re not listing all of the things? Does this just apply to certain dialects? How would you say or? Please explain!

My understanding is that や is for listing an unexhaustive list of things. It is more formal than とか.

I’m pretty sure there are other ways to say “or”, but one way is using か between nouns.


Pretty sure か is used at times (thanks @Maddieplier for teaching me that)


Isn’t か ‘or’, や and とare ‘and’. difference being や being ‘and so on’, and と just what is listed?

AかB: A or B
AとBとC: A and B and C
AやBやC: A and B and C (and maybe some other stuff)


か = or
や・と = and

Just to clarify for the OP: や and と are not equal. Although they are meant to create lists, や is for unexhaustive lists and と is for exhaustive lists. This was illustrated by DaisukeJigen.

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To list some things in a row, I think か is the normal way to seperate the items.

や in my opinion is for saying “among other things…” like “私はピザや寿司やアイスクリームがすきです。”(“Among other things, I like pizza, sushi and ice cream”) which resembles more “and” instead of “or”.

Another way to use or is to use それとも which I hear more often, like "彼はギターを弾いていますか、それともピアノを弾いていますか。(“Is he playing the guitar or the piano?”)

Just the ones that came to my mind, there are other ways for sure. Someone correct me if I explained sth wrong.

What about 又は? I’ve used it for “or” a couple of times and no one has bothered to correct me yet. Is this a ‘written vs spoken’ language thing, or is 又は used completely differently?

You can use または in writing or conversation. People generally don’t use the kanji for it though.

それか is a little more casual.


Ah I see, so my initial thought wasn’t that far off. Thanks Leebo :slight_smile:

(I’m a bit surprised that people don’t use the kanji frequently though. For someone lazy like me it seems so much more convenient to write 又 instead of また haha)

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